Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has unintentionally provided great entertainment with an op-ed published last week in The Wall Street Journal. Her essay decries how terrible indeed it is that her political child, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), is free of Congressional control — exactly as it was designed to be by the Dodd-Frank Act. Moreover, and much worse, under a new director, the CFPB now has no interest in paying attention to her!
To Senator Warren, this is outrageous. To any detached observer, it is funny.
The irony of Senator Warren’s plaint and of her frustration with her discovery that the bureaucratic agency of whose independence from Congress she was a prime author, is beyond the control of any senator, is delicious. The CFPB is beyond even that most basic of all checks and balances, the congressional power of the purse. This is exactly as intended by the Democratic congressional majorities which created it and gave it the power to simply dip into public funds without Congressional approval or appropriation. It does this by helping itself to money out of the Federal Reserve’s income, which is economically equivalent to dipping into the Treasury’s general fund.
That this independence now operates to frustrate Senator Warren is wonderful poetic justice. The irony, the poetic justice and the entertainment were not lost on the readers. In a day, they provided over 800 comments to the WSJ’s website, the vast majority of which enjoyed making similar points.
Here are some sample comments and excerpts:
“This article is the poster child of ‘be careful what you wish for.’ All her screaming cannot change the fact—she created an agency that cannot be controlled by elected officials—and now she is on the other side of that coin.”
“A Democrat creates and weaponizes a bureaucracy only to see her opponents take charge of it. Hoist on your own petard, eh?”
“Amusing to hear Warren rant about how the agency she helped create to be unaccountable to Congress, is now unaccountable to her!”
“Oh please, Ms. Warren. You purposely designed the CFPB to be above oversight. Your sour grapes that your creation in now in Republican control is amusing indeed.”
“In short, the CFPB was designed to be an unaccountable agency led by a single dictatorial director. That was fine with Warren when it was run by Richard Cordray, who aligned it with her. Somehow, things have changed now that the CFPB isn’t being run by one of her ideological cronies.”
“Testifying before Congress had absolutely no effect on Richard Cordray. The CFPB was specifically told its charter did not include consumer auto loans. But that did not stop him.”
“Wow, she was largely responsible for creating this monster and now that it doesn’t behave exactly as she would like, she whines.”
“This is rich. Warren intentionally created the unconstitutional agency with no accountability in order to protect it from changes in Congress that could threaten it. Now they’re not doing what she wants. Such a hypocrite.”
“Now the shoe is on the other foot and the GOP has the chair, and the sky is falling.”
“To see her most prized possession emasculated while she whines powerlessly is such sweet poetic justice.”
And so on.
All this suggests three questions that Senator Warren really should answer:
- Does she now support requiring Congressional appropriations for the CFPB?
- Does she now support governing the CFPB with a bipartisan board, rather than a single, authoritative director?
- Does she see herself — as others see her — sufficiently to understand how funny her article is?